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TRC dispute over MK member's death

Published Sep 1, 1999


Elijah Mhlanga

Another dispute has erupted between Durban security branch police officers seeking amnesty and the family of anti-apartheid activist Ntombi Priscilla Kubheka over the circumstances surrounding her death.

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The police officers, led by Major Hendrik Botha, told the amnesty committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) sitting in Durban that "she died of a heart attack as she was a large woman and overweight".

But the family, led by the South African Ambassador to Denmark, Themba Kubheka, contends that the police shot her in the head before dumping her body, which was exhumed at Groutville, near KwaDukuza, in May 1997. She died in 1987 when she was 41 years old.

In his evidence, Botha said Kubheka was never shot but died of a heart attack.

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The Kubheka family, represented by lawyer John Wills, said she was shot and, when exhumed, a bullet hole was found in her skull.

But the police officers charge that the wrong body had been exhumed - a claim challenged by the family, which claims to have evidence to prove that the exhumed remains were those of Kubheka.

Kubheka was an ANC co-ordinator of externally- and internally-trained Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) members living in KwaMashu. Her ambassador brother and sister, Sibongile Kubheka, were in exile in Lusaka, Zambia at the time.

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Vlakplaas unit police officers, led by Colonel Eugene de Kock, combined their resources with the Durban security branch to infiltrate Kubheka's network.

The police officers who participated and have now applied for amnesty are Botha, Warrant Officers Salmon du Preez, Laurance Wasserman, Casper van der Westhuizen, Roelf Visagie, now in the United States of America, Marthinus Ras Junior, and Adrian Baker. The team also included the late Colonel Andy Taylor.

Two askaris (ANC activists turned police or State informers), Warrant Officers Simon Radebe and Jimmy Mbane, assisted in the murder of Kubheka, the TRC committee heard.

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The two askaris pretended to be MK members and offered to

accommodate activists from Swaziland. They lured Kubheka to her arrest and then death at the hands of Botha and his team.

The police had wanted to obtain information on the arrival of four MK members from Swaziland.

When the activists failed to arrive after six weeks, even though this information had been supplied by Mbane, Botha ordered Kubheka's arrest. She was killed at a shooting range in Winklespruit, near Amanzimtoti.

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